MEN'S SOCCER: BC’s Kyle Bekker Taken Third Overall In MLS SuperDraft
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 22:01
Since its inaugural season in 1996, Major League Soccer (MLS) has chosen only five Boston College players to join its ranks by way of its annual college draft. From the time when BC graduate Paul Keegan was made the league’s sixth ever pick in 1996 to the selection of Paul Gerstenberger in 2009, only five players were deemed good enough to join the ranks of North America’s top professional soccer league.
Last Thursday’s SuperDraft in Indianapolis, IN, would see that number grow by two, as BC’s Kyle Bekker and Charlie Rugg were selected by Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy, respectively. Bekker was chosen third overall by the Canadian organization, while Rugg was snapped up by former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena at No. 19, the final pick of the first round.
“It’s a nice surprise, definitely, to hear your name called, but I’ve always been confident in my own abilities,” Bekker said in an interview with Toronto FC’s official website. “For the last few days I think I showed well. Personally I think I belong here and I deserve to be here and I’m just excited to have the opportunity.”
Bekker will leave BC coach Ed Kelly’s squad with a sizable hole in the midfield, as he made 79 starts across 80 matches during his four year career. The center midfielder will leave the Heights ranking second all-time in program history in assists (22), eighth in points (56) and tenth in goals (17).
Coming off a 2012 campaign that was statistically his least effective in four years under Kelly, Bekker’s draft stock was a bit of an unknown. Yet, he put all those doubts to rest at the MLS pre-draft combine in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where he was named MVP of the three-day event.
ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman said of Bekker after he was selected, “How about the free kick goal he scored in game three [of the Combine]? Spectacular. The one thing I love about him is his movement off the ball—very clean. He never loses the ball—right foot, left foot—and he loves set pieces.”
The former Eagles captain is an Oakville, Ontario native, and much has been made of Toronto bringing him back home with this selection. His pace and creativity in the center of the field will be a boon for a team that finished dead-last among the 19 teams that comprise the MLS in 2012.
“It’s definitely a little more special for me,” Bekker said of being drafted by his home team. “It’s a chance I can play in front of my friends and family back home and it means a lot. There’s a lot of pride in being Canadian and playing for a Canadian team.”
Of late, Bekker has also featured for the Canadian national team at the under-23 level, where he brought the squad to within one victory of qualifying for the past Olympics. There has been talk of Bekker earning his first appearance with the senior national team, and as such there will be a lot on the plate of the former Eagle.
Drafted lower than his former teammate, former BC striker Charlie Rugg will be joining a team of much greater fortune. The Galaxy are the winners of the past two MLS championships and currently feature international stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Rugg’s departure leaves another large hole in Kelly’s team, as he was named to the All-ACC first team three times. So often the beneficiary of Bekker’s assisting prowess, the former captain finished his career on the Heights fifth all-time in goals scored (28) and points (74).
Rugg was ranked as the 40th player on the list of the top ranking service, Top Drawer Soccer, and it is thought that his goal-scoring abilities elevated his status in the SuperDraft. “Goals find him,” ESPN soccer analyst Alexi Lalas said of the Massachusetts native after he was drafted. “That is not something you teach when you talk about a guy like Charlie Rugg.”
Becoming the first pair of Eagles ever to be drafted in the first round is no small feat for Bekker and Rugg, and it reflects well on the success of Kelly’s departing senior class. Though they enter the league on opposite sides of the first round, as well as polar opposites in the standings, both departing Eagles will have the opportunity to continue to showcase their talents on North America’s greatest soccer stage in the MLS next season and beyond.